The Night Shift

[p] - Percy

POSTED: Wed Nov 07, 2018 6:37 pm

Bramble scratched his head, his ears flicking as a stray finger got too close. It had been a busy day, it felt that every day was a busy day since their home had, quite literally, gone up in smoke. The Parhelion had never been one to shirk a chore though and he knew that now, more than ever, his family needed him, so Bramble had thrown himself into the work of taking care of things. He had hunted, cooked and gathered wood for fires, despite what some may feel about it, they needed to stay warm. Now everyone was asleep and there was nothing to do, but even then Bramble had volunteered to take a watch. Of course, the quiet meant he got to think. Oddly the pictures that swam into his head weren’t the ones of his home, but of shadowy branches, reaching across the sky, just like the night, when he’d been small and found himself outside in the cold and alone, calling out for his dad. Bramble knew he was too old to call out now, but his heart ached like it had never done before. While he was very careful to make sure that he still smiled and joked with everyone, he felt his dad’s absence sharply.

Taking a quick look over his shoulder, he moved a little further away from the slumbering forms and the crackling fire. He didn’t want to disturb their sleep, and the firelight would do nothing for his night vision. Leaning against a tree, and finally out of sight of his small clan, Bramble felt his ears droop, even his folded ear, ever indominable, seemed to slump.

”Well here we are.” He said softly to himself.

He could feel the tree’s uneven bark against his pelt. It grounded him somehow, but it couldn’t stop the reveries that began to creep in during the quiet night. His birthplace, his home and whole world had been destroyed. Everything that they’d worked for, everything that had been theirs, snatched away, and why? Bramble still wasn’t sure. All the time’s he’d laughed had been in Krokar, all the hugs and training, had been in Krokar. Of course, he’d climbed mountains and been on day trips out of his home, but the pack lands had always been there, reassuring, a place his compass always pointed. Now where should it point? Yes he had family here, but it was incomplete, missing pieces in the jigsaw of his heart. He raised his hand to his face and covered his eyes, trying to push out all of these mental images, but they kept flickering by, touching a very raw and painful wound that work helped him to ignore. Bramble made a stifled gulp before straightening and taking a deep breath, pushing it down and making sure he was still the easy going constant in their group, watching out for his family.
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POSTED: Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:35 pm

Sleep eluded him like prey and Percival resolved himself to another long and sleepless night. Looking up at the stars, their bright light winking back at him, he thought of an evening, not terribly long ago, he had spent with his cousin, Oscar, and felt that familiar gnawing ache of his heart.

Rolling over onto his side, Percy thought bitterly that not even the good memories were welcome ones.

Glaring into the darkness, a figure shifted and rose and crept away from their camp. The youth's eyes were drawn to it and, buzzing within his head, curiosity took hold. Frozen against the warm, solid back of his ox, Pim, Percival watched the figure slip out out of the firelight's golden embrace and into the horrible shadows around them, thinking that he needed just to sleep and let the others do what they needed to.

But there was no sleeping tonight, not while his mind was alert and his memories kept on spinning. So Percival stirred and rolled himself onto a hip, then gently rose to his feet. Pim lifted his head and emitted a muted sound. "Shhh," he responded, rolling his hand down the ox's thick neck. "It's okay, Pim. Betsy is here. I'll be right back." Whether or not the gentle beast understood him, Pim seemed soothed by the boy's touch and, after a short time, Percival tiptoed away from camp to follow after his brother.

It wasn't hard to find him – they were few and their camp was small — but Percy didn't expect what he saw.

"Bramble?" he whispered harshly into the silent night. "What're ya doin'?"

OOC: Bramble.... ;____;

[WC — 277]


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Luperci we were infinite; there was no time in those days They stole my dirty socks... :(
timshel

POSTED: Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:37 pm

Was this what it felt like to be a loner? Never having a place to belong? Never having a home? There would be those that would doubtless think Bramble lucky and see his sadness as unreasonable, at least he had experienced it. Perhaps they’d be right, but having known it, the pain was really quite exquisite when it is ripped away.

The Parhelion with the mismatched eyes heard the rustle behind him just in time to compose himself. Looking over he heard his younger brother’s voice before he saw Percy’s gentle nutmeg eyes. Bramble’s smile was easy, genuine and only slightly wistful.

”Hi Perc.” His voice was quiet, despite being so far from the slumbering family, the night seemed to demand a lower volume. ”Thought I’d do a little guard duty, I was awake, so might as well be doing something useful.” Besides, Bramble thought, anything that kept him from lying in the gloom and thinking about what had happened had to be good. Bramble stopped leaning against the tree and gently nudging his brother’s arm. Percy had adopted clothing, something that Bramble rarely wore, except perhaps wraps around his hands and feet, finding the cold never got that bad. The Parhelion wit the mismatched eyes took a deep breath, Percy’s scent, a mixture of his Ox’s, the remnants of Krokar and family in general, filling his muzzle, along with all the other scents of the surrounding area.

”What’re you doing up? You’ll never grow big and strong if you don’t get a good night’s sleep?”

Despite Bramble’s gentle teasing, he was glad to have his younger brother here, but something was different. That transparent barrier still stayed in place, and Bramble felt, not distant, but not quite able to reach out and really touch his family. As though the loss of home and dad had slotted something out of place. Still, Bramble did his best not to dwell on it, there was wood that needed gathering, food that needed hunting and family that needed guarding. The wonderful thing about work was, there was always more of it and Bramble, if he wasn’t climbing, was always doing it, never standing still and never without a quip or quick retort. Bramble would pull his family through this, he was determined to do that, and perhaps he’d manage to drag himself along as well.
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POSTED: Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:22 pm

The voice that responded was but a whisper. Even in the quiet stillness of night, it seemed strange to Percival to think that Bramble – his brave, energetic, and daring older brother – could even command such a tone. Then, unbidden, his mind drew forth memories of a night, not terribly long ago, that the two of them had shared. His heart dropped into his stomach.

Their father was still with them then; their home was still standing. He would give up his ability to shift, he thought, if only they could go back to that brighter, happier time with all that they knew now and prevent this whole awful, terrible event from ever taking place.

But Percival was quickly learning that magic wasn't real and wishful thinking never got anyone anywhere.

"I'm already big an' strong, Bramble!" Percy replied with indignation, squaring his shoulders and standing as tall as he could. "'Sides, I can't sleep." He looked at his brother curiously, his floppy ears low and his nutmeg eyes hopeful. "Can I keep watch with you?" He asked. "Please?"

Giving his feathered tail a limply wishful wag, Percy waited for his elder brother's response and looked upwards into Bramble's mismatched eyes with the biggest puppy-dog eyes he could possibly muster.

[WC — 215]


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Luperci we were infinite; there was no time in those days They stole my dirty socks... :(
timshel

POSTED: Sun Dec 09, 2018 5:20 pm

Bramble loved his family, with a terrible fierceness. He’d grown up among love and strong bonds, if there was no family there was no life, but for an instant the Parhelion with the mismatched eyes had a selfish thought. He wished that Percy would go away and leave him to his private grief, the sadness he could not show to the rest of them. It made Bramble’s heart ache when he had to push it down, but his ungenerous thinking fled quickly, Bramble had never been one to allow his morose moods, if they had ever come before, to push away his family or friends.

Bramble even managed a laugh and wide grin at his younger brother’s indignation, patting the other’s shoulder.

”Yeah, I know you are bro.”

He could of course demure, come up with a legitimate excuse to make Percy go and rest. There weren’t many of them and they needed to share watches, but he didn’t have the heart to turn his younger brother away.

There’s no need to give me the puppy eyes Percy I’m not mum or dad.”

The last word had come without thinking, and for an instant Percy had made Bramble forget. His chest tightened as the jolt hit him, but he didn’t let his easy manner waver.

”Come on, we might as well head back to the fire, no point being cold out here, we’ll hear stuff further in.”

Bramble took a few steps towards the camp and a warm fire, looking back to see if Percy would follow him.

”You can tell me what’s keeping you up.”

Of course, Bramble was pretty sure he knew why the small brother wasn’t getting much rest, probably the same reason they all weren’t, but it might help Percy to talk about it. It seemed that since the incident, no one mentioned it, or brought it up, as though speaking it out loud might make it real, but it was real wasn’t it? Even if they all said nothing, closed their eyes and plugged their ears, the past wouldn’t be changed and dad wouldn’t suddenly appear. Perhaps it was best to draw it out of Percy at least.
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POSTED: Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:21 pm

The weight of Bramble's wide hands against Percival's shoulders made the younger Parhelion blink with each pat that landed. Sounds of laughter – no matter how quiet or short – never ceased to lift his spirits, if only a little bit, and his brother's chuckle was no exception. Wagging his tail a little harder, Percy felt a little of his previous worries and woes dissipate with the sound of Bramble's laugh and the appearance of his broad grin.

And then, like the sky falling, everything came tumbling down.

"Yeah," Percy agreed thickly, his tail hanging at his hocks and his eyes – once so hopeful and bright – directed at the ground his feet stood upon. "I know."

For all they knew, they didn't have a dad anymore.

He was glad when Bramble changed the subject again, though the weight in his chest held steady. Looking up again, Percival nodded and trusted in his older brother's knowledge of the world. Silently, he followed Bramble's path away from the chill that commanded the outskirts of their little camp and back into the warmth and the light of the fire that was their heart and soul.

Without looking into Bram's mismatched eyes, Percival shrugged. "I dunno," he mumbled, lowering himself to the ground in front of the flames. He let the silence stretch before continuing. "Stuff, I guess. You know." Tucking his knees up to his chest, Percy wrapped his arms around his legs and rested his chin atop the crest of his knees. He looked into the flames. "I miss Pa an' Daisy." A pause. "An' I'm kinda scared." Glancing up at Bramble, he added quickly, "But only a little bit."

The firelight danced across the peaks and valleys of his face. "Are we gonna be okay, Bram?"

[WC — 302]


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Luperci we were infinite; there was no time in those days They stole my dirty socks... :(
timshel

POSTED: Fri Dec 14, 2018 1:11 pm

Wanting to make sure Percy didn’t feel under pressure to talk, Bramble tended the fire, busying himself with getting them some food and something to drink. He never stopped paying attention to his younger brother though. It made Bramble sad to his Percy fold in on himself as he had, pulling his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around them. It was a protective gesture, keeping the world out, defending himself. What was worse is that his younger brother’s thoughts reflected all of Bramble’s. Every time he closed his eyes he dreamed of Krokar, of his family, of all of his family. His sadness sat like a weight on his chest, threatening to crush him, but Percy needed him and he loved his family too much to not be there for them. Suck it up Bramble, he thought to himself and the food cooking on the fire, Bramble stood and came to his brother, sitting down beside him, one arm around Percy’s shoulders and pulling him close.

”Listen Perc, no one is gonna think less of y’ for being scared. Krokar’s gone and dad and Daisy are missing, if y’ weren’t scared it’d be strange.” Bramble began, his tone gentle, but never quite losing that air of lighthearted humour.

Bramble kissed the side of Percy’s face, squeezing him close.

”I miss ‘em to, but folk are working hard and I know we’re gonna find ‘em, and when we do it’ll be awesome.”

Bramble reached towards the fire, turning the hastily erected spit. Being close to his brother, feeling the other in his embrace was enormously comforting to Bramble. Dad wasn’t here, and neither was Daisy, but Percy was and Bramble was grateful for that. Bramble had built his world upon the foundations of Krokar and his family, those foundations had been weakened, but they’d not quite yet been destroyed.

”If you ever feel scared or unhappy though Percy, y’ gotta tell me, and if y’ need to come sleep with me, that’s cool too.”
After all, most of Bramble’s life had been spent living in his parent’s house, sleeping on the floor before the fire, when he’d not been displaced by new arrivals of course. He’d only ever needed a place to crash and he liked to be near his family to need his own space, he’d been perfectly contented.
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POSTED: Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:28 pm

While he sat, his body pulled into itself and wrapped with the length of his arms, his brother worked. Before the fall of their beloved pack, Percival had never realized all that his family did for him and his sisters. Or, more truthfully, Percy had taken it all for granted. He explored the territory in safety because there was always someone watching; he never new true hunger because there was always food to be had; he could always get his questions answered because their people were diverse and knowledgeable.

Percival had been born in a time of privilege and protection, but those times had burned away with their village. Now was a time of poverty and privation. Now, the young Parhelion realized silently as the aroma of roasting meat wafted from the fire, was the time for Percival to prove to everyone who had ever provided for him that he could hold his own and give back to others what they had given to him.

There was no alternative, not anymore.

His nutmeg eyes on the dancing fire, Percival allowed Bramble to pull him toward his elder brother's strong, solid body but didn't turn to look at him until his gentle, light voice faded into the darkness. He closed the eye on the side of the face that Bramble kissed, but the other focused on his brother with the telltale wideness of surprise. "So..." he began through his brother's embrace, continuing when Bramble's arms loosened. "Does that mean you're scared too, Bram?"

His large eyes reflected the flickering of the firelight as he waited for his brother to reveal his inner feelings. Did they mirror his own?

"Yeah?" Percy replied in a cautiously hopeful tone, the tip of his tail thumping limply against the ground. "Yeah," he said again, more decisively this time. Bramble knew more than he did; how could his brother be wrong? "I hope we find 'em soon."

Relaxing his arms, Percival stretched out his legs and rested his head on Bramble's shoulder. With the comforting smell of cooking food and his elder brother's reassurances, Percy felt better. "Can Pim an' Lua an' Meerclar an' me all sleep with you tonight, Bram?" he asked, lifting his eyes upwards. As far as he was concerned, it was common knowledge that he did nothing without including his ox and his feline companions.

[WC — 400]


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Luperci we were infinite; there was no time in those days They stole my dirty socks... :(
timshel

POSTED: Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:34 am

Bramble did his best to picture himself, his brother and all the animals in the rude shelter Bramble had created. The idea of the ox was what did it. The Parhelion with the mismatched eyes huffed a chuckle at the thought of them all squashed inside.

”We’d all have to sleep outside, near the fire, because however much we try, we ain’t all gonna fit, and I’m never sure how much an ox enjoys being inside.”

Bramble was grateful that his younger brother appeared to unclench though. Slowly the protective huddle relaxed and the older Parhelion felt Percy’s reassuring weight against himself. Now came the slightly trickier answer, fear was a strange thing for Bramble. When he climbed and dangled from the sides of mountains he sought it out, but this fear, the worry for his dad and his sister, that was very different.

”Yeah, I’m scared Perc. Sure ma’s told you about when I wouldn’t leave the house. I’ve heard her mention it to everyone in Krokar. She had to coax me out eventually, and it took some doing. I was scared then. I remember da telling me after that though, y’ can’t be brave if y’ ain’t scared. I learned as well, having things y’ care about makes you less scared. I love y’ Perc, and ma and all o’ y’. all of y’ make me less scared. Da isn’t here right now, but until he comes back, I’m here to take care of you guys.”

Bramble could have stayed snuggled with his brother for the rest of the night, but the meat was calling for his attention and he had to extract himself a moment, leaning forward and examining the skewers. The skin was crisp, and the meat bloody enough to still be juicy. He handed one of the skewers to Percy.

”Now get some food down y’.”
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POSTED: Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:44 pm

While Bramble huffed a chuckle, Percival considered his brother's explanation with furrowed brows and a serious nod. Sleeping outside was a necessity when it came to Pim and something he was prepared for. As it was, sleeping beneath the frosty twinkle of the night sky was what the younger Parhelion was gradually becoming used to. Thankfully, his ox's considerable size also provided considerable warmth so that, combined with his own wiry pelt and the cloak he had salvaged from Tuktu Lodge, allowed for enough comfort for him to get some sleep.

"That's okay," he said, failing for a moment to consider his brother's own probable sacrifice to comfort. To make up for it, he added, "Pim's really warm, though! When he lays down, you can snuggle up right next to him and its almost like sleeping between Ma an'-" Percival snapped his mouth shut and looked wide-eyed at Bramble for a heartbeat before his droopy ears drooped further and his big nutmeg eyes sunk to his feet.

There was nothing good about comparing their current situation to past prosperity.

"Anyway," he murmured after a short time. "That sounds fine." A small sigh slipped between his lips and, though he didn't close himself up as he had done before, he felt as though his heart had taken a surprise kick right to the gut. Sometimes, even after all these days, he could believe that his father and sister were simply on some extended hunting trip and not hopelessly gone.

With Bramble's strong, secure warmth next to him, Percival felt his spirits lift marginally. He listened, soulful eyes lifted to peer into the mismatched irises of his elder brother. And he soaked in the words that fell from the man's lips with thoughts that weighed optimism against pessimism.

While Percy mulled his brother's words over, Bramble extracted himself from the youth's weight and tended to the meat sizzling on the open flames. When the elder Parhelion offered a skewer to him, Percival accepted it wordlessly and held it between his index finger and thumb.

It was oddly reassuring (and, albeit subtly, worrying) to know that his older brother was, in fact, also scared. "How come you wouldn't leave the house?" he asked, sniffing at the delectable meat while his tummy rumbled. If there was anything Percival needed right now, it was a good story that he could escape into while he filled his belly with warm food.

Once their meal was finished and the smell of cooking meat was beginning to dissipate into the cold atmosphere, Percival settled back into himself and returned to his thoughts. "Will he?" he asked, referring back to Bramble's earlier postulation. "D'ya really think Papa and Daisy will come back?"

[WC — 467]


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